With his look and a spot on a hit TV show, it was no surprise that after publicly campaigning for the role Zachary Quinto was the first actor cast for the new Star Trek. In our new exclusive interview with the actor we talk about that campaign and how the role has changed him, and also what changes the Star Trek movie has in store for the role of Spock. [interview contains SPOILERS]
Interview with Zachary Quinto
TrekMovie: You have been on tour for quite a while and there is more to come, even though you are back in LA, do you even feel home now, since you are still doing this?
Quinto: No….. It’s a whirlwind, but it is the time of my life. I have been dreaming of this kind of experience since I was a kid. So no sense in doing anything but enjoy it.
TrekMovie: What was your favorite city, or do you even know what city you are in?
Quinto: I have a clear distinction and I updated my website as I was traveling. It is hard to chose a favorite city, because all the city’s are so different and all the experiences were so unique to the places that we were and to the point along the way that the experience fell. Kuwait was probably the most rewarding along the way, in order to connect with the troops. But I love Paris and London. I wish were able to spend more time in Berlin, I have friends who live there, but we were there for less than 24 hour hours.
TrekMovie: You, possibly more than anyone, went after this role, perusing it big time. Now that you are on the other end of that, looking back at the final product, how do you feel about your performance and the film in general? Was it what you thought it was going to be, when you decided you wanted to do this?
Quinto: To be clear and honest, it was really an unintentional campaign. I was giving an interview for publicity for Heroes and the first interview was for my home-town newspaper [see December 2006 Pittsburgh Post Gazette article]…and the journalist asked if there was any project I would be interested in beyond Heroes and I said “I just found out they were making Star Trek and I would love to play Spock” never in a million years thinking it would add to anything. Then that interview got syndicated and journalists subsequently brought it up and it escalated and evolved and eventually journalists were saying “I understand that Spock is your dream role” and I sort of went with it “it is my dream role now”. It was certainly always my dream to have this kind of experience. There is no mistake that it happened with Star Trek and it happened with this character and it happened to be with JJ Abrams, someone for
whom I have profound respect and affinity, and yeah, it has been everything I can imagine and then some. I can’t really comment on my own performance in the movie, but I can certainly comment on the experience I had the first time I saw it. It was incredibly humbling, and I was really proud to be a part of it. To be clear I was proud to be a part — one part. There are almost a thousand people who worked on this film and I realize that my contribution is only as significant as 999 of them. So for me I was impressed by everybody’s work as actors and production designers and composers and sound designers and cinematographers and camera operators, all the way down the line I just felt it was really really impressive and humbling to see what everybody’s contribution added up to.
TrekMovie: You may just be a part, but in a way you are the face of this film because you recognizable in the makeup and the ears and the wig…
Quinto: Not a wig.
TrekMovie: Really? Well for example on the cover of this week’s Time magazine there is an inset, a tiny picture, and they use you because you don’t even need to say what it is..that’s a Vulcan. And you are on the cover on twenty magazine across the world. What is this doing to you as a person, how transformative is it? Is it just another day for you?
Quinto: I think as I look back on the totality of my life and my career, this chunk of time will emerge as a really defining period. And the time will emerge as a really defining period and the influence and the experience will shape what comes after it, but I don’t have any perspective on it right now. It is just another day for me because I am fully immersed in it. I am really trying in this experience to be as present and available and engaged as possible. To get so far ahead as to be able to see the overall impact that it has had doesn’t seem possible and doesn’t seem very beneficial to me.
TrekMovie: I know that you have tried to make this role your own, as directed by JJ and as Leonard [Nimoy] understood. But what would you say is the most different about your interpretation of Spock, and on the other hand what would you say was the most the same?
Quinto: I will take the second part first. I think there are a number of characteristics of Spock that are inextricable from who he is and what his heritage is and what his cultural history is. There is a certain way he carries himself and a certain way that he speaks and way that he relates that is defined ultimately by Leonard, but more than that, by the history of the mythology of the character. For me that was the part of the character that was most similar to the version that Leonard played. I think the versions that were different is that that he is much less at ease about his duality. He is much more in conflict internally and I think he has much less control over the stirrings of his human emotion, and that allowed me a little bit more room to play with then many Leonard felt he had with his experience with the character.
TrekMovie: One of the biggest differences is the love interest with Uhura. When you read the script for the first time did you get how big that was?
TrekMovie: How did you prepare to literally go where no Spock has gone before? It is very new territory.
Quinto: [laughed] It is new territory, but I think it is very important to our movie. On one hand, I think it infuses the story with a certain levity and a certain humor between Kirk and Spock and this sort of rivalry. Between Kirk and Uhura there is this sort of cat and mouse thing going on. And that is the source of a lot of laughs for me. I think between Spock and Uhura it actually provides a sort of depth and complexity to these characters and relationships that adds a kind of value to this movie and sets it apart from what has come before it. Uhura represents a canvas onto which Spock is able to project the emotions he cannot express. To that end I think it is a valuable device and I think it is well laid in to the evolution of this story and I hope that it is not too disruptive to the die-hard Trek canon fanatics.
TrekMovie: I think in another interview you talked about doing some special fight training that you didn’t use. So where in the film was that to be?
Quinto: It was the sequence where we beam on board the Narada, where my brother makes a cameo actually. My brother is the Romulan who turns around and notices that we beamed on board and tells Nero. It was that sequence where we were to beam into the middle of like five Romulans and then I was going to kick all of their asses. But I think with the bar fight and the drill fight and the fight I already had with Kirk on the bridge, JJ [Abrams] felt that another fight sequence wasn’t necessarily advantageous to the movie, so we changed it to the gunfight, which I think actually works better.
TrekMovie: Let’s assume a sequel happens, as an actor, what would you to do and see with the character?
Quinto: Ultimately I really have such implicit trust with the creative team of this movie, and would hopefully be the same creative team for the next movie and I know Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] and Damon [Lindelof] are going to write the next one if we do one — it is hard for me to say. They have taken us in some really great directions and they set us up to have some really great adventures, and I think exploring the relationships among the crew. I would be really interested to see what happens with Uhura and Spock, if anything. But ultimately my job is to go where they take me. And to the extent that they are interested in my input I am happy to give it, but I haven’t been really asked by them so I feel sort of presumptuous.